• America's Temple of Reason: Proselytizing Deism in the Early Republic

      Waldstreicher, David; Glasson, Travis (Temple University. Libraries, 2015)
      During the early American Republic the Age of Enlightenment was in its twilight years. The era of rationalism was coming to an end, much of which was due to the astounding growth of religious revivalism. Overwhelmingly, the public showed a preference for a God who appealed to emotion rather than reason. However, the Enlightenment did not quietly submit to defeat. Thomas Paine's Age of Reason, a blistering denunciation of revealed religion, created a sensation on both sides of the Atlantic. In America, a spirited minority followed in Paine's footsteps as proselytizers of deism. From November 1800 to the February 1803, they printed The Temple of Reason, a weekly newspaper that endeavored to spread the wisdom of religious toleration and a God of Reason to the public. What made these individuals unique was that they helped to bring the Enlightenment down from the confines of the intellectual elite. This thesis builds on the scholarly discussion among historians of the Early Republic that deist proselytizers attempted to attract a popular following. I further the discussion by arguing that The Temple of Reason endeavored to reach out to the middling sort and working people, typically a non-traditional audience for the Enlightenment. Constituting the majority of my sources are articles from the newspaper itself. By disseminating the content, I demonstrate that much of the language and thematic material employed were specifically designed to appeal to people from ordinary backgrounds. This was not random or coincidental, but a conscious strategy on the part of deist proselytizers to make the Enlightenment a more inclusive movement.